Landon in The Literary Gazette 1822/Rock
Literary Gazette, 5th October, 1822, Pages 633-634
Third Series — Sketch the Fifth.
THE LOVER'S ROCK.
"Oh why should Fate such pleasure have,
Life's dearest bonds untwining;
Or why so sweet a flower as love
Depend on Fortune's shining.
This world's wealth, when I think upon't,
Is pride and a' the lave on't;
Fie, fie on silly coward man,
That he should be the slave on't." - Burns.
Most beautiful, most happy! must there be
Clouds on thy sky, and thorns upon thy path?
Love, why art thou so wretched? thou, so formed
To be the blessedness of life, the last
Sweet relic left of Eden! Yet on thee,
Even on thee, the curse is laid! Thy cup
Has its full share of bitterness. The heart
Is chilled, crushed, and constrained by the cold world,
Outraged and undervalued; the fine throbs
Of feeling turn to ministers of grief;
All is so false around, affection's self
Becomes suspected. But of all drear lots
That love must draw from the dark urn of fate,
There is one deepest misery—when two hearts,
Born for each other, yet must beat apart.
Aye, this is misery, to check, conceal
That which should be our happiness and glory;
To love, to be beloved again, and know
A gulf between us:—aye, 'tis misery!
This agony of passion, this wild faith,
Whose constancy is fruitless, yet is kept
Inviolate:—to feel that all life's hope,
And light, and treasure, clings to one from whom
Our wayward doom divides us. Better far
To weep o'er treachery or broken vows,—
For time may teach their worthlessness:—or pine
With unrequited love;—there is a pride
In the fond sacrifice—the cheek may lose
Its summer crimson; but at least the rose
Has withered secretly—at least, the heart
That has been victim to its tenderness,
Has sighed unechoed by some one as true,
As wretched as itself. But to be loved
With feelings deep, eternal as our own,
And yet to know that we must quell those feelings
With phantom shapes of prudence, worldly care—
For two who live but in each other's life,
Whose only star in this dark world is love!
Alas, that circumstance has power to part
The destiny of true lovers!
Has a wild legend of untoward love,
Fond, faithful, and unhappy! There it stands
By the blue Guadalquivir; the green vines
Are like a girdle round the granite pillars
Of its bare crags, and its dark shadow falls
Over an ancient castle at the base.
Its Lord had a fair Daughter, his sole child,—
Her picture is in the old gallery still;
The frame is shattered, but the lovely face
Looks out in all its beauty; 'tis a brow
Fresh, radiant as the spring,—a pencilled arch,
One soft dark shadow upon mountain snow;
A small white hand flings back the raven curls
From off the blue-veined temples; on her cheek
There is a colour like the moss-rose bud
When first it opens, ere the sun and wind
Have kissed away its delicate slight blush;
And such a fairy shape, as those fine moulds
Of ancient Greece, whose perfect grace has given
Eternity to beauty. It was drawn
By one who loved her—an Italian boy—
That worshipped the the sweet Inez. He was one
Who had each great and glorious gift, save gold;
He wandered from his native land:—to him
There was deep happiness in nature's wild
And rich luxuriance, and he had the pride,
The buoyant hope, that genius ever feels
In dreaming of the path that it will carve
To immortality. A sweeter dream
Soon filled the young Leandro's heart: he loved,
And all around grew paradise,—Inez
Became to him existence, and her heart
Soon yielded to his gentle constancy.
They had roamed forth together: the bright dew
Was on the flowers that he knelt and gave,
Sweet tribute to his idol. A dark brow
Was bent upon them—'tis her father's brow!
And Inez flung her on his neck and wept.
He was not one that prayers or tears might move;
For he had never known that passion's power,
And could not pardon it in others. Love
To him was folly and a feverish dream,
A girl's so vain romance—he did but mock
Its truth and its devotion. "You shall win
Your lady love," he said with scornful smile,
"If you can bear her, ere the sun is set,
To yonder summit: 'tis but a light burthen,
And I have heard that lovers can do wonders!"
He deemed it might not be; but what has love
E'er found impossible! - - - - -
Leandro took his mistress in his arms.
Crowds gathered round to look on the pale youth
And his yet paler Inez; but she hid
Her face upon his bosom, and her hair,
Whose loose black tresses floated on the wind,
Was wet with tears! - - They paused to rest awhile
Beneath a mulberry's cool sanctuary—
(Ill-omened tree, two lovers met their death
Beneath thy treacherous shade! 'Twas in old time
Even as now:)—it spread its branches round,
The fruit hung like dark rubies 'mid the green
Of the thick leaves, and there like treasures shone
Balls of bright gold, the silk-worm's summer palace.
Leandro spoke most cheerfully, and soothed
The weeping girl beside him; but when next
He loosed her from his arms he did not speak,
And Inez wept in agony to look
Upon his burning brow! The veins were swelled,
The polished marble of those temples now
Was turned to crimson—the large heavy drops
Rolled over his flushed cheek—his lips were parched,
And moistened but with blood; each breath he drew
Was a convulsive gasp! She bathed his face
With the cool stream, and laid her cheek to his—
Bade him renounce his perilous attempt,
And said, at least they now might die together!
He did not listen to her words, but watched
The reddening west—the sun was near the wave:
He caught the fainting Inez in his arms—
One desperate struggle—he has gained the top,
And the broad sun has sunk beneath the river!
A shout arose from those who watched; but why
Does still Leandro kneel, and Inez hang
Motionless round his neck? The blood has gushed,
The life-blood from his heart! a vein had burst.
- - - And Inez was dead too! - - - L. E. L.
- This poem appeared later in The Vow of the Peacock and Other Poems (1835)